The Madeleine Carroll Blogathon is an event in honor of the actress, presented by Tales of the Easily Distracted and Silver Screenings. For a list of participating bloggers, visit the links at either site.
The Prisoner of Zenda
seen on TV @ TCM
I've seen lots of movies about double identities, and I'm sure you have too... and maybe if I had seen The Prisoner of Zenda before most of them, I'd like it more. As it is, I thought it was just okay. The double identity movie that it reminded me the most of was Dave - regular guy substitutes for look-alike head of state in a time of crisis - only with more swordplay. This was a vehicle for Ronald Colman, and I liked him. I remembered him from the movie Random Harvest, and I liked him in that too. The sets and costumes looked good, the sword fight near the end between Colman and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was great, and for 1937, the optical effect of having Colman shake hands with himself was pretty convincing. But I kinda knew where this story was going after the first ten minutes.
Still, we're not here today to talk about Colman, but about his co-star, Madeleine Carroll. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a whole lot to do in Zenda other than stare lovingly into Colman's eyes and act regal, though she certainly gets her moments. I thought she had a more substantial role in The 39 Steps.
Carroll was a superstar in Britain during the 30s, and her popularity increased after the success of Steps, an Alfred Hitchcock film. She worked with Hitch again in Secret Agent. During her Hollywood years, she starred opposite the likes of Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, Fred MacMurray, and even Bob Hope. During World War 2, her sister died in a London bombing raid, and as a result, Carroll became a nurse for the Red Cross and worked in the United Seamens Service as entertainment director. She wasn't able to regain her popularity after the war, however.
How does Carroll stack up against the other Hitchcock blondes? This top ten list ranks her sixth, for what it's worth. This article breaks down the whole obsession Hitch had with blondes and compares the most iconic ones. The writer credits Carroll as the first, though some believe the trend began as far back as Hitchcock's silent films with an actress named Anny Ondra.
That's about all I got on Carroll. I'm sure she was good in other movies. Maybe I'll watch one or two of them in the future.
Other Madeleine Carroll movies:
The 39 Steps